Planet Parades 2022: How To See All The Planets

~8 min
Planet Parades 2022: How To See All The Planets

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about a breathtaking astronomical event called planetary parade and inform you of the next planetary alignment.

Contents

What is a planet parade?

Although there is no official scientific term ‘planetary parade’, it is widely used in astronomy to denote an astronomical event that takes place when planets of the Solar System line up in a row in the same area of the sky, as seen by observers from Earth. There is no single definition of this phenomenon. These are the three most commonly used:

  1. An astronomical event that occurs when planets line up in a row on one side of the Sun at the same time, as seen up above the plane of our Solar System.
  2. A visual phenomenon that occurs when planets of the Solar System appear in a small sector of the sky at the same time regardless of their visibility conditions, from Earth's point of view (as seen by observers from Earth). A planet parade of this type happened on April 18, 2002, and then on July 4, 2020, when all planets of the Solar System that are visible to the naked eye lined up in a row in the evening sky. According to preliminary forecasts, such planet parades will take place in 2022, 2040, and 2854.
  3. On rare occasions, there are very good seeing conditions of all planets of the Solar System in one night. These events are also referred to as planet parades. For inner planets, the best viewing conditions occur near the greatest elongations, and for outer planets – sometime before and after oppositions.

Types of planetary parades

Another term for a planet parade is ‘appulse’. The following types of planetary parades are distinguished according to the number of participating planets:

  • Mini planet parade – 3 planets.
  • Small planet parade – 4 planets.
  • Large planet parade – 5 or 6 planets.
  • Great (full) planet parade – all Solar System’s planets (+ Pluto sometimes).

Mini planet parades are not rare events. Three planets can be simultaneously observed in the same part of the sky several times a year.

When do the planets align?

It is important to point out that planetary alignment during a planet parade should not be taken literally. In reality, planets never align in one perfectly straight line, as usually shown in the pictures. Since the Solar System’s planets do not all orbit perfectly in the same plane and swing about on different orbits in three-dimensional space, they will never be perfectly lined up.

What happens when the planets align?

By planets’ alignment or parade, astronomers usually mean that planets will appear in the same part of the sky. Sometimes the arrangement of planets in the sky resembles a line, but it's not always the case. Most often, two or three planets form a line in the sky.

Besides, a lot depends on the viewpoint. When planets line up on one side of the Sun, they are not necessarily in the same region of the sky for observers from Earth. Vice versa, when planets are in the same part of the sky from Earth's point of view, they are not necessarily aligned from the point of view of the Sun.

When was the last time all the planets aligned?

On July 4, 2020, a rare and unique planet parade took place. All the planets of the Solar System – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune plus the dwarf planet Pluto – lined up on one side of the Sun at the same time. This was a planet parade of the first type of the three described above. The near-perfect alignment didn’t occur, as the deviation angle was quite small. Before that, the parade of planets of this type happened in 1982, and the next one is expected in 2161.

Also, in August 2020, the planetary parade of the third type occurred: observers could witness all the planets in one night. At the beginning of the month, the elusive planet Mercury shone in the morning sky, and brilliant Venus was sitting nearby. The red planet Mars, distant Uranus, and Neptune, all approaching their oppositions, were well placed for observation, as well as the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. Even the dim dwarf planet Pluto offered skywatchers favorable conditions for viewing it due to its opposition.

The last time the planet parade took place was December 2021. It was less spectacular than the one in August 2020, as this time only six planets lined up in the sky — Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus. The alignment also wasn’t close to perfection.

When will the next large planetary alignment occur?

The stargazers will have a chance to enjoy the breathtaking planetary parade of the second type in March 2022: five planets of the Solar System – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn – will simultaneously appear in a small sector of the sky. However, the observing conditions will be unfavorable for astronomy lovers from some parts of the globe. If you miss out on the planet parade in March, try your luck in April or June 2022, when other alignments of planets will occur.

If you would like to check the time of planetary alignment for your location and to easily locate planets on the sky's dome, consult the stargazing guide Star Walk 2 or use the astronomy tool Sky Tonight. The apps’ notifications will help you to keep abreast of the most noteworthy astronomical events in time.

When will the planets align in 2022?

Three planet parades are coming in 2022. They will occur on:

  • March 28, 2022;
  • April 20, 2022;
  • June 24, 2022.

Let's take a brief look at each of them.

Planet parade on March 28, 2022

As we mentioned above, five planets of the Solar System will take part in this parade — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. All of them will be positioned in the same part of the sky in the morning hours starting from March 28, 2022. The downside is that you’ll likely see only three of these planets, as Mercury will be positioned too close to the Sun, and Jupiter will stay very low above the horizon for most of the locations. But don’t worry! The other three planets have prepared a surprise for you!

On March 28, shortly before sunrise, Venus, Mars, and Saturn will group within a circle 5.3° across in the constellation Capricornus. Don’t miss this event — next time, such a planetary alignment will occur only in September 2040, when the three planets will come even closer, within a 3.9° circle.

You can view the planetary trio together through binoculars or simply observe them with the naked eye. Look for the planets low above the south-eastern horizon if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere; observers in the Southern Hemisphere should gaze above their heads in the eastern direction.

Planet parade on April 20, 2022

Another planet alignment will occur on April 20, when Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and Venus will create a near-perfect line in the predawn sky. The viewing conditions will be more favorable than in March: all the planets will be within range of naked-eye visibility and will rise higher above the horizon before sunrise. However, you will still need a clear horizon to see Jupiter, which sits lower than the other planets. You’ll find Jupiter in Pisces, Mars and Venus — in Aquarius, and Saturn — in Capricornus.

Note that this particular event doesn’t really fit the planet parade definitions mentioned above. It could be referred to as the second type, but the distance between the planets will be too far.

Planet parade on June 24, 2022

The final and most spectacular planet parade of the year will take place at the end of June. On the morning of June 24, observers will see all planets of the Solar System aligning in the sky. Only five of the planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn — will be visible to the unaided eye; observing dim Neptune and Uranus requires binoculars.

The planets will extend from east to south (north to east in the southern latitudes) across the sky, so you definitely won’t see all of them together via optics. Observers from the Southern Hemisphere will again have a better view — the planets there will rise earlier and climb much higher.

An additional bonus is the last quarter Moon, shining between Venus and Mars. It will be slightly out of the “planetary line,” traveling from planet to planet during the latter half of June.

F.A.Q.

Let's briefly recap all the information about planetary parades given above – just in case you don't feel like reading a long article.

What is a planetary parade?

It is an astronomical event that occurs when the Solar System’s planets line up in a row in the same area of the sky, as seen from Earth.

The astronomical events that can be referred to as planet parades include:

  • events that take place when planets align in a row on one side of the Sun at the same time, as observed up above the plane of the Solar System;
  • visual phenomena that happen when the planets of the Solar System appear in a small sector of the sky at the same time, as seen by a terrestrial observer,
  • nights when all planets of the Solar System can be seen.

What types of planet parades are there?

There are four types of planet parades: mini (3 planets), small (4 planets), large (5 or 6 planets), and great (all Solar System's planets).

When do the planets of the Solar System line up?

In fact, the Solar System’s planets never align in one perfectly straight line, as they do not orbit in the same plane.

What to expect from a planet parade?

During this spectacular event, you can see planets lined up (or just gathered) in the same part of the sky.

When was the last time a planetary parade occurred?

All the planets of the Solar System lined up on one side of the Sun at the same time on July 4, 2020. Also, the next month observers could see all the planets in one night.

What planet parade happened on July 4, 2020?

On July 4, 2020, the rare planet parade took place. All the eight planets of the Solar System and the dwarf planet Pluto lined up on one side from the Sun at the same time.

When to see the next large planetary parade?

In March 2022, five planets of the Solar System will simultaneously appear in a small sector of the sky. In June 2022, one more planetary alignment will occur.

How often do the planets align?

Three planets align on one side of the Sun simultaneously two times a year, four planets – once a year, five planets – once in every nineteen years, and all eight planets of the Solar System – once in about one hundred seventy years.

This was all you need to know about the planetary parades in general and their schedule in 2022. If you liked this article, share it with your friends, and follow us on social media to never miss noteworthy planetary alignments in the sky above.

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